E3 Media Briefing Breakdown: Microsoft and EA

xbox e3 banner

Microsoft

My first experience of a media briefing at E3 and it was definitely a big one. Happily on the receiving end of a priority pass for entry (thank you Microsoft) I found myself as front row. As close as you can get without being a speaker; next to a couple of execs from Harmonix.

https://twitter.com/rajdeut/status/476026457668714497

From the word go this presentation was–as Microsoft’s Phil Spencer introduced–“All about games”. And boy, did they make sure you knew it. From Xbox One exclusives such as Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac (releasing Oct 28) to indie showcase pieces like Limbo creator Play Dead’s Inside due 2015. It was a non-stop avalanche of games driven into you by bowel-shaking bass.

Highlights:

Insomniac Games’ Sunset Overdrive demo & release date

Sunset OverdriveWith so many games being pushed to 2015 it was a relief to hear one truly next-gen title is coming out this year. The gameplay demo was hectic and there’s crazy amounts going on but it looks really fun. It’s like a Dead Rising that takes the piss out of itself, the cinematic trailer before the demo ending with these words from its protagonist “It’s a fucking video game”. Here’s the trailer and more info.

343’s announcement of the “Halo: The Master Chief Collection”

master chief collection

All 4 major Halo games on the one system for the first time, Nov 11 2014. It will also include stand alone Halo 2 multi-player, a new “moments” option of gameplay allowing you to play the best parts of the 4 titles instead of linearly one by one and Ridley Scott’s Halo Nightfall live-action series. Purchasing the release will also entitle gamers access to the Halo 5 beta due in Dec this year. Here’s some more info.

Forza 5’s Nürburgring Free DLC available now
Glaringly omitted from the latest iteration it’s now back, for free AND rescanned with millimetre accuracy! Here’s some more info.

Other highlights included a new gameplay video from the 2015-coming The Division, Forza Horizon 2 details, Fable Legends’Villan-player” mode making you the Dungeon Master of the game, a new Crackdown and a new exclusive IP called Scalebound. Not to mention a sneak peak of “Rise of Tomb Raider“.

What fell flat for me:

  • Call of Duty: Advance Warfare‘s gameplay and cinematic was a more of the same snooze. It opened their show too, which you can understand — CoD being the money juggernaut it is. What got me the most though was its use of “Last-of-us-esque” music to try and portray a deeper story. Here’s a video.
  • Harmonix spoke about the latest version of Dance Central and there was a logo up for Disney when they mentioned Fantasia. It ended with a smattering of golf-claps from a hushed crow.

Overall Microsoft did what they said they would and showed off games. There was zero mention of the now-accessorised Kinect or any of the buzzed-about home integration features of the Xbox One we saw last year. I think they’ve finally realised they’ve been alienating their core audience and they’re trying to make up for that.

Let’s hope for them that it’s not too late.

My rating: B-


ea

Electronic Arts

From one theatre to another, the experience couldn’t have been any more different. Coming from stadium seating for the Microsoft briefing, to sit down at wedding-styled tables, it was immediately clear that EA had a very different approach.

A new venue for EA this year saw nearly 2000 less invited attendees to create a more intimate showing for those there.

EA started strongly, giving us a glimpse into the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront development. The behind-the-scenes look into how the team have visited each of the films’ physical filming locations as well as digitised prop assets from the original trilogy had everyone buzzing. However, with little more and then an even shorter “tease” of new Mass Effect content the mood quickly simmered.

Highlights:

Mirror’s Edge 2 & more Mass Effect are coming

Mirror's Edge 2Can’t really say more than that at this stage but we got confirmation on the Mass Effect and a look at some production work on Mirror’s Edge. Here’s a video.

 

Unnamed new Criterion developed IP

new-criterion-game-4Imagine an adrenaline-fuelled junkies wet dream of an open world game because that’s what Criterion are developing and EA kinda showed off. Inspired by the millions of GoPro (or alike) extreme sport videos out there the game lets you use almost any vehicle you can think of. Plane, car, wingsuit, helicopter, ATV, jet ski, you name it, they’ve modelled it in. The premise (or point) well, that’s To Be Announced but it looks like a lot of fun. A great candidate for VR treatment too. Here’s more info and a video.

NHL15

NHL 15I’m a hockey fan so maybe this one’s a little biased but holy-shit-balls does this thing look amazing. With an entirely new physics system that can individually model the effects on twelve players and the puck simultaneously. They shouldn’t have shown it before FIFA 15 because in my opinion it made it look second-rate and really that’s the global seller for EA. Here’s more info and a video.

The Battlefield: Hardline leak turn around

Battlefield HardlineEA copped one to the goolies over the last couple of weeks with all of those leaks to their new Battlefield title. They took it on the chin and handled it well though, making fun of it and then dropping the mic at the end of the show by giving the press in attendance the chance to play the game literally straight away. They also opened the beta to the world too.

The game itself looks good; if Battlefield is your thing you shall enjoy. I promise. Lookout for the baseball bat! Here’s more info and a video.

What fell flat for me:

  • Mirror’s Edge 2, Star Wars Battlefront, Mass Effect and the GoPro thing aren’t likely to be anything real until 2016. In the case of Battlefront we got a line saying “More info in Spring 2015” which is a more likely time to get any solid info on its release.
  • EA wants a piece of the MOBA pie with their new IP Dawngate. It what’s rapidly becoming an overcrowded marketplace, EA have their own little twist on the genre, touting a “massive” story-arc. MOBAs aren’t my area of expertise, but I can’t see this having legs unless something goes terribly wrong with LoL or DOTA 2. Here’s more info.
  • “Levolution” is a buzzword that we’re going to hear over and over again.

My immediate reaction post-presentation was one of hype until I started to go through the list of what I’d seen and when I was going to actually play it in my lounge room. There’s a fine line between hyping something too much when it’s years away and not. EA might’ve gone a little too hard for me today.

My rating: C

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